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Mining software maker Surpac merges with ECS International

PERTH-based Surpac Software International has merged with ECS International as it fights to maintain its dominant position as one of the world’s largest mining software systems providers.

Surpac has been operating since 1982 pro-

viding modelling and planning software systems predominantly for the metals and industrial metals sector.

Founder Geoff Bebb still holds a 52 per cent stake in Surpac although the day to day running of the firm has been passed to Tony Hampton.

ECSI has its niche in the coal mining industry and concentrates on the development of specialised blending scheduling software for coal, iron ore and cement operations.

Around 600 mining sites in 85 countries around the world are using Surpac Vision and ESCI’s MINEX software systems.

Mr Hampton said the three key benefits of the merger were to remove duplication of services, staff development and the ability to deliver support systems to customers.

“There was quite a bit of overlap within the two companies,” he said.

“Merging allows us to combine our resources, eliminate duplication of research, develop one coherent marketing strategy and refine the internal operations from maximising efficiency.

“Both organisations complement one another and will benefit clients across the board from metals and industrial metals, to coal and iron ore.

“From a technical perspective the merger will advance the development and delivery of value-adding mining solutions by several years.”

According to a survey published in Mining Monthly Surpac dominates the estimated $5 million Australian mining software business. With Australian revenue of around $2 million a year, it controls around 40 per cent of the market.

Maptek was the second largest provider, with a 19 per cent market share of the mine planning software market across all sectors.

Datamine was used on 16 per cent of sites; Metech, 8 per cent; Gemcom, 5 per cent; Mincom, 6 per cent, ECSI’s Minex, 2 per cent; and MineMap, 2 per cent.

In underground mine planning, Surpac had a 49 per cent market share, Datamine, 26 per cent and Maptek 17 per cent.

Surpac Australian divisional manager Rebecca Kellam said for the moment the two firms would maintain some of their independence and continue operating under their existing names.

She said while ECSI also had a consultancy arm, which complemented its software business, however, she ruled out Surpac also moving into consulting.

“In WA there are already a lot of consultative businesses,” Ms Kellam said.

“It’s already very well served with the likes of Snowden Mining Consultants, Australian Mining Consultants and RSG Global.

“We keep a very close relationship with these consultants and don’t want to compete with them because they have been very good to us.”

Ms Kellam said Surpac had succeeded in growing its profitability over the past few years in the face of fierce competition in the international market.

During the 2001-02 year net profit grew to $700,000 from the $600,000 recorded in the previous two years and the current year looks equally healthy.

Ms Kellam said Surpac had enjoyed some record months already and had signed up three, $100,000 clients recently.

She said the average client was worth between $25,000 and $40,000 each, accounting for the initial software, maintenance and upgrades.

Ms Kellam said that with Australian firms dominating and fighting over what was essentially a fairly small global market of around $60 million a year, further consolidation was necessary to maintain profitability.

She said Australia was a world leader in developing software because of its strong mining sector.

“Even the US are not as sophisticated in the way they plan and map their mines,” Ms Kellam said.

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